Back to School

Call Me Emily It’s that time again. The ceremonial day of mixed feelings. For some, back to school is joyful and exciting. For others, it’s a grind that seems to have no end. For Emily, it’s a little of both. Call Me Emily begins her freshman year at Cal West University and the beginning of the tumultuous ride of her life. It’s a balancing act for sure for Emily. With classes, friends, a nosy brother and a budding romance – what’s a girl to do?

Here’s a little glimpse – the budding romance:

Design 101 started filling up as the teacher walked in carrying a pile of papers. She leapt right into plans for the semester, and handed out the syllabus. This was my first experience with a syllabus, and its organization intrigued me, but I had no idea how we would accomplish all this work. I was overwhelmed. This was going to be a long day.

Oceanography went well. It was nice to be in a class that was so far from my major. The class was much larger, which probably meant people were taking it to fulfill a general science requirement, just like me. The room was typical lecture style, with tiered seating and a big projector screen at the front of the class. My high school had one classroom like this, but on a much smaller scale. Here, the instructor was a quirky man who loved baseball and, of course, the ocean. He explained to us that he was, in fact, a professor with a PhD but not to call him Dr. Vance because he didn’t like that, and not to call him Mr. Vance because he would look around for his father. That left his first name which was Marlon. I kind of chuckled to myself thinking of the irony of his name and his profession; marlin the sport fish. Marlon was cuing up the first slide. Wow, classes started hard and fast here.

Spanish was somewhat of a relief. I had taken four years of high school Spanish, so at least something was familiar. It was a second year college level course but it didn’t intimidate me. I found a spot, again somewhere in the middle of the room: this class was smaller than Oceanography but still bigger than Design 101. As people settled into their seats, the teacher came through the door surrounded by a cloud of disarray and incense, pulling a rolling cart full of books and papers. In a bright orange, pink and black poncho, she was a sight. Her voice was full and rich and it seemed to match the long, curly mane of black hair flowing down her back. She spoke only Spanish: this class was beginning with the same jolt of my previous classes. She handed a stack of what had to be the class syllabus to the first person in each row to hand back. (Of course I didn’t know the Spanish word for “syllabus.”) As the guy in front of me turned to hand me the stack, I reached up. The stack slipped through my fingers to the floor. Oh, I was such a dope! I silently turned in my seat to pick up the papers when he bent over to help.

“I’m sorry, I let go too soon,” he said kneeling to help me.

“No, it was totally me,” I said shaking my head. Yep, I’m a klutz. I stretched for the three syllabi on the floor to my right before I looked up at him.

“Well, I don’t know about that, but if you say so.” One corner of his mouth curved up into an impish smile. He handed me the sheets that fell in the opposite direction. Then I realized he looked familiar. Had I met him? No. I didn’t think so. I smiled back wondering why his face seemed so…then I remembered, he was the guy that offered to help me when I must have looked completely lost on my first day.

“You know.” He stacked the rest of the papers on my desk. “I might need some help.” What? I thought. Did he remember too?

“Help?”

“Yeah.” He pointed to the stack of syllabi in my hand. “Figuring out what that says.” OK. Probably not.

I took my first look at the syllabus and saw it was entirely in Spanish. Great! I hoped I could read it. When I looked up again, his smile widened and for a flash. I felt my cheeks heat up.

“I’m Graham,” he said extending his hand. I reached over and opened my mouth to respond as I heard the girl behind me clear her throat.

 I passed the papers back and quickly sat down. I had disrupted class long enough. 

The rest of Spanish flew by; what a relief that classes were over for the day. It was hard to believe I had so much reading to do.

“So, how about it?” He stood and slung his backpack over one shoulder.

I looked around making sure he was talking to me. His tone was relaxed. He sounded like he was talking to someone he knew, and knew well. But, it appeared he was only talking to me. I shrugged.

“You’re assuming I can read it.”  I slung my book bag on my shoulder, and with a tilt of my head walked in the opposite direction. Barely out the door, I turned around just enough to see him standing in the same spot watching me walk away. And I felt the slightest bit smug.

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